So What and Who Cares?

My mother has always been a source of wit and wisdom. She introduced me to great vocabulary words like “serendipity” and “yeoman’s work.” She has been known to call me a “wuss.” (I’m sure I deserved it.) Lately my mother’s favorite thing to say is “So what and who cares?” It has been a game-changer.

When I start to worry about a decision I have to make or turn my attention outward, toward the (frequently imagined) opinions of other people, I hear my mother saying, “So what and who cares?” Then I remember it’s time to check in with myself.

Of course, my mother cares about people and things, but she has realized that if she is not vigilant, she can squander the limited time and energy she has for caring on things that do not really warrant it. This leaves little to nothing for the things that do matter to her.

Using myself as an example, I cannot count the number of times I have worried about a future that did not come to pass or dwelled on a past that I could do nothing to change. Or the number of times I have allowed my fear about what other people think to influence my actions, and even how I feel about myself. I’m committed to being more judicious with my time and attention—and my care—so now when my self-talk turns toward doubt or fear or “what ifs,” I stop and think to myself, “So what and who cares?”

Sometimes the answer to “So what” is “It matters,” and sometimes the answer to “Who cares” is “I do.” Other times, though, when I ask myself those questions, I realize I am giving a situation or a person more influence over my thoughts, feelings, and actions than it deserves to have. And in those times, repeating “So what and who cares?” is one of the most freeing things I can do.

Not sure whether it really does matter or whether you really do care? Test it out on small things. You don’t need to quit your job because you’re annoyed by a deadline or move to another country because you dislike the traffic jams in your town. But what would *really* happen if you refused a call from that person in your life who seems to drain your energy? Or if you said no to a social invitation you did not want to accept even though you feel compelled to put in an appearance?

These are examples of life circumstances in which you can modify your usual behavior. Make no mistake: Doing so will feel momentous and difficult, and it is, because you will be exercising a muscle that may not get much use. But the risks are relatively low, and the potential payoff is twofold. First, you may get to avoid spending time doing something you do not want to do, which is an instant win. Second, you will have collected some useful information about how you are spending your time and energy relative to how you WANT to spend them.

Want a jump-start to help you learn more about what and whom you really care about? Join me and Samantha Faulhaber for a weekend retreat June 23-25 in Pawling, NY, where we will provide life coaching, physical mobility work, and jiu-jitsu instruction, not to mention delicious food, a beautiful natural setting, and opportunities for serendipity. (My mother will be so happy!) Contact me, visit me, or check out Sam’s page, which contains a wealth of resources to get you started on your own.